Friday, December 21, 2007

How much is that froggy in the toilet?

After the initial shock of "What the heck did we get ourselves into?!" we've decided it is time to do our first blog from Darwin.

Now the moment you have all been waiting for - yes there are actually frogs in one of the toilets. Two at last count, although we think one was flushed. We've named them Basil II and Hugh II to replace our cats who are currently hating us from quarantine in Sydney. (Yes, we did manage to get approval for the cats. We'll fill you in on the details below.) Back to the frogs. They seem to stay in the inner ring where the water shoots out. The first time David used it, they prevented the flush and about five minutes later from the other room we could hear it go. They are actually a pretty decent size, about the size of a hand.

On our first adventure out we headed to the local bus stop. There was an obviously intoxicated aboriginal man and he started to speak to Jenni "How ya goin' my lovely?" He introduced us to his wife who clarified, "I'm not his wife, I'm his friend." He asked us where we were from. Once he heard Colorado, he belted out a couple of verses of "Rocky Mountain Hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiighhhhh Colorado." 'Tis truly a small world. He even knew John Denver's real name. David still doesn't know....

Everyone we met has been extremely kind and helpful. Helen (the person who picked us up at the airport) and her partner Michael have loaned us a "clunker," and David has actually been driving. We drove down to the central business district of Darwin, with Jenni chanting her mantra "Keep it on the left side of the road, keep it on the left side of the road." It was helpful. Complicating matters is the clunker is a manual, so David is having to learn to shift left-handed and drive on the "wrong"side of the road. The gears are in the same place, but the turn signal and windshield wipers are switched, so David is constantly signaling his turns with windshield fluid.
We were warned by Australians prior to our move that people in Darwin are a bit "unique." We met one such person in line at the bank. A wiry old man, at 5' 3" and maybe 100lbs, behind us in queue grabbed a handful of sweets the bank employees were handing out and explained to us how much he loved chocolate. "Ah luv chocolate. It's really good with Scotch. I like to sit at home and eat chocolate and drink mah Scotch. I'm out of Scotch. That's why I'm at the bank. I need more Scotch." He also explained his predicament to the bank teller.

We got the cats in. Here's a quick timeline of events leading up to the final approval.
  1. Thursday -- Find out cats cannot go to OZ due to CSU Vet clerical error. Cry, tear out our hair, wear sackcloth bags, beg friends and relatives to take the cats.
  2. Friday -- Vets call OZ embassy in US and are told the cats can go, "No worries mate. We'll get it all right." All we need is a LETTER from OZ (keeping in mind, Friday in US is Saturday in OZ).
  3. Saturday -- No LETTER from OZ.
  4. Sunday -- Sunday evening in US, Monday am in OZ. Still no LETTER. We e-mail and then call the woman bureaucrat who is supposed to write us the LETTER. She is annoyed that her authority had been undercut by her manager, "Your vet went to my manager and overrode my decision. You are very lucky." She sends us a form to complete before we can receive the LETTER. We complete and fax the form. And three hours later (10:24pm US, 4:24pm OZ) we receive the LETTER in an e-mail. The LETTER has the wrong microchip number for Basil (gee, guess even bureaucrats can make clerical errors). She corrects the error and, by midnight we fax the form to the USDA.
  5. Monday -- 8:00 Cats begin their journey. Basil is excited to be making the big move. He yowls in anticipation all the way to the airport. 6:00 LAX, we take a Cab from airport to Qantas freight. Cats begin to wonder why we didn't just leave them at home...


marie_colette said...

Loved reading the news!

Phillip said...

It's great to hear from you! Interesting story about the frogs. What a great environmental alternative to toilet paper! I wonder if frogs in the U.S. could be taught to do this or would I have to import a particular species from OZ? Are there other amphibious creatures suitable for the task? I assume you wouldn't want to train a toad (warts).

I look forward to hearing more about your adventures

Felicia said...

Was it really expensive to get them there? I will be moving my two cats there next year and just wanted a rough estimate. Thanks!